Pacer Shoeing by Conformation

By B. Griffin, F.W.C.F.
this review published in ANVIL Magazine, September 1996
reviewed by Rob Edwards

Technical step-by-step presentation for farriers. $40 (incl. S&H)

This 50-minute video gets right to the point with straightforward narration and clear-cut examples of equine conformation and how it affects gait. Welshman Mr. Griffin, who has spent many years shoeing pacers, shares his keen eye with the viewer. He maximizes the value of video as a teaching tool, providing important tips on how to evaluate conformation as a step in making shoeing decisions. Interference is a common problem for pacers, not only causing immediate visible injury but also long-term invisible injury to joints, ligaments and cartilage. Mr. Griffin's goal is to shoe the pacer with faulty conformation with just enough gait change to minimize or eliminate injury.

A pacer's working life is not related to age. Instead, conformational defects are the critical factors, with crossfiring and knee hitting the main reasons for early retirement. Mr. Griffin has found in choosing a pacer that conformation is more important than bloodlines. His experience is also that boots are not the answer - they do not prevent injury and tend to break apart.

Analyzing shoe wear patterns gives the best indication of how the horse is moving its legs. The ratio of leg length to body length is an important factor in crossfiring. A variety of other measurements will also indicate the number of conformational defects the horse exhibits, thereby determining which of the following shoes should be used. Mr. Griffin clearly details a measurement technique and outlines what measurements are to be made. He then demonstrates exactly how to make each shoe.

The length of steel is determined by adding the hoof width plus the length plus 1". All front shoes are made from 1/2" x 1/4" mild steel and are plain stamped:

  1. Plain with a toe clip.
  2. Rolled toe.
  3. Square toe.
  4. The Griffin Shoe (medial offset square toe).
  5. The Griffin Shoe with a 3/4" medial heel grab.

All hind shoes are made from 3/4" x 1/4" stock and have square medial toe quarters:

  1. A lateral branch with a donkey heel (a trailer to widen the gait) and side clips.
  2. A lateral heel wedge (to slow breakover and widen the gait).
  3. A lateral 1" caulk trailer (to arrest forward movement on the lateral side and widen gait considerably).
  4. Toe grab (slows the breakover) made of 1/4" x 1/8" strip welded to the toe.
  5. 5/8" x 3/8" fullered concave stock with a heel caulk for a grass track.
  6. Same as 5. with a toe grab.

Mr. Griffin suggests that in hoof balancing and shoe fit, corrections are best limited to no more than 3/16" per shoeing. Speaking from his many years of experience, he maintains that shoes should change the horse's gait just enough to overcome conformational defects.

Although this videotape deals with pacers, the principles apply to any horse that interferes. Anyone who is shoeing for performance will find value in this video, as will those interested in perfecting their shoe making.

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